Catalogue


Gulp : adventures on the alimentary canal /
Mary Roach.
edition
First edition.
imprint
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2013]
description
348 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780393081572 (hardcover)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
author
imprint
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2013]
isbn
9780393081572 (hardcover)
catalogue key
8849998
 
Includes bibliographical references (pages 333-348)
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2013-01-21:
Roach (Stiff) once again goes boldly into the fields of strange science. In the case of her newest, some may hesitate to follow-it's about the human digestive system, and it's as gross as one might expect. But it's also enthralling. From mouth to gut to butt, Roach is unflinching as she charts every crevice and quirk of the alimentary canal-a voyage she cheerily likens to "a cruise along the Rhine." En route, she comments on everything from the microbial wisdom of ancient China, to the tactics employed by prisoners when smuggling contraband in their alimentary "vaults," the surprising success rate of fecal transplants, how conducting a colonoscopy is a little like "playing an accordion," and a perhaps too-good-to-be-true tale in the New York Times in 1896 of a real-life Jonah surviving a 36-hour stint in the belly of a sperm whale. Roach's approach is grounded in science, but the virtuosic author rarely resists a pun, and it's clear she revels in giving readers a thrill-even if it is a queasy one. Adventurous kids and doctors alike will appreciate this fascinating and sometimes ghastly tour of the gastrointestinal system. 18 illus. Agent: Jay Mandel, WME Entertainment. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Appeared in Library Journal on 2013-03-01:
Best-selling popular science writer Roach (Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void) turns her attention here to the alimentary canal. Roach asks the questions that some readers may have always wondered: Does saliva have curative properties? Do pets taste food differently than their owners do? Could Jonah have survived three days in a whale's stomach? Could Americans lower the national debt by chewing their food more thoroughly? As she investigates these questions, Roach encounters many an eccentric scientist who has worked tirelessly to unlock the mysteries of saliva, gastrointestinal gases, and mastication. As she recounts her adventures in tasting centers and laboratories, she aims not to disgust readers, but to inspire curiosity-even awe-for the most intimate functions of the human body. VERDICT Filled with witty asides, humorous anecdotes, and bizarre facts, this book will entertain readers, challenge their cultural taboos, and simultaneously teach them new lessons in digestive biology.-Talea Anderson, Ellensburg, WA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
Starred review. Filled with witty asides, humorous anecdotes, and bizarre facts, this book will entertain readers, challenge their cultural taboos, and simultaneously teach them new lessons in digestive biology.
Starred Review. For all her irreverence, Roach marvels over the fine-tuned workings and 'wisdom' of the human body, and readers will delight in her exuberant energy, audacity, and wit.
Starred review. Roach's approach is grounded in science, but the virtuosic author rarely resists a pun, and it's clear she revels in giving readers a thrill-even if it is a queasy one. Adventurous kids and doctors alike will appreciate this fascinating and sometimes ghastly tour of the gastrointestinal system.
There is much to enjoy about Mary Roach-her infectious aw for quirky science and its nerdy adherents, her one-liners... She is beloved, and justifiably so.
With the same eager curiosity that she previously brought to the subjects of cadavers, space, and sex, the author explores the digestive system, from mouth to colon.
You'll come away from this well-researched book with enough weird digestive trivia to make you the most interesting guest at a certain kind of cocktail party…Go ahead and put this one in your carry-on. You won't regret it.
Once again Roach boldly goes where no author has gone before, into the sciences of the taboo, the macabre, the icky, and the just plain weird. And she conveys it all with a perfect touch: warm, lucid, wry, sharing the unavoidable amusement without ever resorting to the cheap or the obvious. Yum!
One of my top criteria for pronouncing a book worthwhile is the number of times you snort helplessly with laughter and say, "Wow! Did you know that ... " before your long-suffering spouse throws a book at you from across the room. My personal spouse says that, in this department, "Gulp" takes the cake.
Relentlessly fun to read.
Roach is a gift to all those unsung researchers with weird curiosities, the people who tell us things we hadn't thought to ask: The teams who reveal that we like crunchy foods that snap at speeds of 300 meters per second and produce a crunch that reaches 90 to 100 decibels; the anthropologist who swallowed a shrew whole (with a little tomato sauce) to demonstrate what remains after digestion; the scientists who put windows into cows to see into their rumen; the researchers who study spit; investigators who sniff icky things; and specialists who examine poop. When Roach talks about her visits to various laboratories, I picture her received as a celebrity, the one person who gets it, the outsider who will teach the world to appreciate the distant exurbs of human curiosity. At this she succeeds admirably.
Mary Roach put her hand in a cow's stomach for you, dear reader. If you don't read Gulp, then that was all for naught. Plus, you'll miss out on the funniest book ever written about guts.
Mary Roach put her hand in a cow's stomach for you, dear reader. If you don't read Gulp, then that was all for nought. Plus, you'll miss out on the funniest book ever written about guts.
Never before has the process of eating been so very interesting…. After digesting her book, you can't help but think about what that really means.
As probing as an endoscopy, Gulp is quintessential Mary Roach: supremely wide-ranging, endlessly curious, always surprising, and, yes, gut-wrenchingly funny.
A witty, woving romp of a book… Roach…is a thoroughly unflappable, utterly intrepid investigator of the icky.
Fans of lively writing will be delighted by the newest monosyllable from Mary Roach. Once again Roach boldly goes where no author has gone before, into the sciences of the taboo, the macabre, the icky, and the just plain weird. And she conveys it all with a perfect touch: warm, lucid, wry, sharing the unavoidable amusement without ever resorting to the cheap or the obvious. Yum!
Far and away her funniest and most sparkling book, bringing Ms. Roach's love of weird science to material that could not have more everyday relevance. . . . Never has Ms. Roach's affinity for the comedic and bizarre been put to better use. . . . "Gulp" is structured as a vastly entertaining pilgrimage down the digestive tract, with Ms. Roach as the wittiest, most valuable tour guide imaginable.
Gulp is about revelling in the extraordinary complexities and magnificence of human digestion.
Letting this brilliantly mischievous writer, for whom no pun is ouch and no cow sacred, dip her pen into the font of all potty humor must have seemed even riskier than her previous excursions into corpses (Stiff), the afterlife (Spook), sex (Bonk) and outer space (Packing for Mars). But dip she did-at one point she put her whole arm into a cow's belly-and came up with another quirkily informative pop-science entertainment in Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal.
A delicious read and, dare I say it, a total gas.
[A] merry foray into the digestive sciences….Inexorably draws the reader along with peristaltic waves of history and vividly described science.
As engrossing as it is gross.
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, January 2013
Booklist, March 2013
Library Journal, March 2013
Boston Globe, April 2013
Globe & Mail, April 2013
Kirkus Reviews, April 2013
New York Times Book Review, April 2013
Washington Post, April 2013
New York Times Full Text Review, May 2013
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
"America's funniest science writer" (Washington Post) takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour. The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: the questions explored in Gulp are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn't the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of-or has the courage to ask. We go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. With Roach at our side, we travel the world, meeting murderers and mad scientists, Eskimos and exorcists (who have occasionally administered holy water rectally), rabbis and terrorists-who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts. Like all of Roach's books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.

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